By Jennifer Sadler
Columbus is home to creative people who are determined to raise awareness of the groundbreaking, world-class art and performances that are happening in our city here and now. The community of independent artists contributes to what makes our city uniquely Columbus. Many have found that forming artist groups or collectives can give them strength in numbers—not only offering a support system for creative work, but also helping to raise the profile of Columbus as an arts city; a place where artists can thrive and contribute to the economy.
Independent artist collectives in Columbus have taken many forms during the past several years. Some artists share similar technical and aesthetic approaches while they create artwork independently; others exhibit under a collective title. Some artists have joined forces to reap the economic benefit of shared studio space, equipment, materials and resources. Others share an interest in addressing social and political issues through their artwork, creating alliances to increase local lobbying power for the arts in Columbus.
Award-winning arts writer and editor, Melissa Starker, currently serves as board secretary for Wonderland—one of Columbus’ most nationally visible and active artist collectives. According to Starker there are several factors that have given rise to well-organized and successful local indie artist groups including internet access to info about what other DIY arts groups around the world are doing and social media outlets.
“Through social media, it's easier to promote efforts directly, and to get a tangible sense of local community support,” said Starker. “I think that [learning from other successful artist groups and social media promotion] have fostered a stronger sense of community overall, and by extension more willingness to collaborate.”
“Fortunately, as the efforts of these groups have grown in organization and sheer density, collectively representing a year-round stream of programming with some major annual events, city officials actively started recognizing their cultural and civic value,” said Starker.
GCAC recently spoke with several independent artists about their affiliations with collectives in Columbus and to find out how their collaborative practices impact their relationships within the arts scene and their individual creative endeavors.
For July's profile, GCAC invited Ken Aschliman, our Columbus Arts Festival intern and recent Columbus College of Art & Design graduate, to interview a local artist for a peek into their studio and to find out more about their work. Aschliman chose to speak with Laura Alexander, a mixed media artist who primarily etches drawings into layered glass and hand cuts paper. Alexander received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and her MFA from the University of Washington. She has a studio at Junctionview Studios in Grandview Heights. She is a member of CAW: Creative Arts of Women and the Ohio Art League. She was formerly a member of the Couchfire Collective and a former board member for the Franklinton Arts District.
By Ken Aschliman
As a recent graduate of Columbus College of Art & Design, I decided to interview Laura Alexander for advice on starting an artistic career. I was familiar with Laura's work and had recently met her at Agora. I interviewed Laura in her studio at Junctionview as she was beginning to gear up for ArtPrize - an event that "matches" artists from around the world to venues in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and then awards the world's largest art prize ($250,000) based solely on a public vote.
Spirit of an Appalachian Region presented by OSU Urban Arts Space
The unique spirit of Appalachian Ohio—as shaped by its geography, history, and people—emanates from this exhibition, which features the work of contemporary artists living and working within the Southeastern Ohio region. Juried and brought to the OSU Urban Arts Space by Majestic Galleries of Nelsonville, Ohio, the Spirit of an Appalachian Region exhibition apprehends instances of daily life in an area where mental and physical states are markedly linked with the natural landscape.
The Lancaster Festival presented by Lancaster Festival, Inc.
The Lancaster Festival is considered the city’s signature event. The community shows its pride for the Festival as the streets and venues of the city come alive with social interaction among residents and guests of varied economic and cultural backgrounds. Lancaster Festival patrons are thrilled by the excitement in seeing “big city” talent right in their hometown.
Vintage Base Ball and Outdoor Movie at the Ohio Statehouse
Celebrate the Ohio Statehouse Sesquicentennial and take a step back to the 1800s with an exhibition base ball (historically two words) game of the Ohio Village Historical Muffins vs. members of the Ohio General Assembly. Enjoy cannon firing demonstrations, Civil War games and concessions. After the base ball game stay for the outdoor Civil War epic, Glory, starring Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets. Free and open to the public.